All posts tagged Alto Rendimiento

Necessary question. How did you get started in this sport and what are your earliest memories in the water?

I wasn’t a very good swimmer and since I was tall, the club suggested that I try water polo… After my first day of practice I had decided I was going to play water polo… I had a great time.

Your career in Spain was mainly developed in the CE Mediterrani winning the league title in the 2002-2003 season. What do you remember from that time?

 During my time with CE Mediterrani I remember being around the best players. Most were part of the Spanish selection, so each practice was a luxury because of the high level and discipline they had. There I learned to love the essence of water polo, there was no financial aid or national teams or club level… so it was putting in the hours and effort to enjoy the sport.

Simultaneously the first international successes started with the junior selection in Loule and Calgary 

I remember those summers, with coach Mar Sanromà, we worked very hard, many hours training and a lot of discipline. We knew this was the only way for good results. Also it was the first time that we would with a psychologists and biomechanics. And all that effort served a purpose, the first medals came in women’s water polo categories (bronze in El Europeo in Loule and bronze in the world championship in Calgary)

You were part of the team that participated in the 2003 World Championship in Barcelona that is considered the precursor of the current generation that has achieved much success.How is it playing the World Championship at home?

Being 20 years old and one of the smallest/shortest on the team I remember it was brutal, throughout the championship I had goose bumps. I couldn’t believe that so many people looked up to us, followed us and enjoyed our games. I remember it as one of the most important moments in my career.

Thanks to that generation, the plan ADO entered with all that it entails. It seems people forget that there was women’s water polo before [now] What changes have you noticed since then? 

The people who spent years in the world of women’s water polo know that without this generation, the women’s water polo world as we know it now probably wouldn’t exist. There were players who trained every day after a hard day’s work, who asked for vacation time to go to stages or tournaments, who  “mortgaged” there summer so that could be “full with the selection, and all this without financial compensation… it was admirable. Thanks to that team and that first ADO, some players from the selection could be without a job, or could continue their studies. The ADO grants are essential for the players to devote sufficient time to polo for great results, otherwise it would be almost impossible.

Plata en Málaga 2008

Plata en Málaga 2008

In 2004 you went to the United States where you won an NCAA ring in your first season. How is water polo across the Atlantic?

It is hard water polo, many hours of training/practice and a lot of disciple. The workouts had a starting time but no end, hours of meetings, you had to study film of rivals before the game, etc. When your goal is to win in the NCAA [title] there is a lot of pressure. Additionally, in the case of having a “full scholarship”, the continuity depends on your academic and sports results.

 Having studied in America, Has it helped you now going back into the workplace?

 It helps to have a career in the US and have a high level of English. The latter is critical today in any career.

Later you return to Spain where in the 2009-2010 season you reclaimed the league championship with Mediterrani some of which have then been a very important part of the current national team…

 It is the league that I remember most fondly. It was a tough year in many ways, but we know how to cope very well: we were very disciplined (we withstood whichever training they threw at us), talented players… but it was the attitude in the water and good relationship between us which made us win this league and made it memorable. I can assure you that any player that formed part of this team remembers that season specially.

 And then you decided to go on a trip to the birthplace of world water polo, Hungary. There you won second place twice in the league. What are your memories of that experience?

 I was coming from the U.S., where everything is based on discipline and hard work, so I was shocked to see a totally different type of water polo… One based off talent. Seeing 12-15 year old kids with a ball control that players in Spain only achieved in the last years of their careers leaves you speechless. And this is because in Hungary they start at a young age working on individual technique and ball control.

Probably, what has stayed with me of those years is having been on a team with some of the best players of Hungarian history.

 Not to mention the silver you won with the selection in the 2008 European Championship in Malaga….

 Unforgettable…  how the fans encouraged us in that championship! Waiting for us outside the pool to sing to us, encourage us… we really enjoyed it. I remember the semifinal game that we won against Hungary, it was very exciting. And even then we lost the final, we were ecstatic to get the first medal of the women’s water polo in a major competition.

 What have been your best and worst memories in this sport?

 I can’t decide on just one good memory, probably I could summarize it in three:

 -The games won and lost that marking a turning point in my career and my development as a player

-The times in practice and traveling with my teammates, that makes you remember everything lived with a special affection.

-And all the moments and games shared, both the selection and the club, with my sister (Cristina Pardo). I wouldn’t have enjoyed everything in the way that I did without having her by my side.

The worst memory probably is the day that I decided to stop playing water polo, I still miss it. But there always comes that time when one must make that decision and not look back, because in reality, there are many wonderful things waiting for us outside of the pool.

 What advice would you give to younger [players] given your experience? 

Two things:

– To get anything (go to the selection, win a league or to play more minutes in club) you must work hard… there will be disappointments and failure, and these will be what help us achieve our goals, otherwise we would never get there

Water polo is a part of life that we must take advantage of and live intensely, but it is not the only thing.  Never stop studying and have other dreams and goals outside of the water.

Lets talk about BIWPA. What do you think and what can they offer to current water polo? 

BIPWA is a great project, and I think the key lies in the variety of programs, being able to combine them with studies and cultural diversity. I think that to play at another level it’s essential to enrich learning different ways of understanding water polo, and this program can offer this experience to developing players.

By Xabi Gómez.

Talking about the High Performance Centre of Sant Cugat is is to write about the modern history of water polo. Although the first steps on the road to the professionalism of the sport in Spain where in Blume facilities, is currently the CAR who has capitalized all the resources and therefore athletes the sport has. Sant Cugat, birthplace of great water polo, its facilities have been the stars of the national aquatic landscape. It was also where the great deeds of the sport based on many occasions, sweat and tears were forged. Hours of training where we have sought perfection that give access to the utopian dreams of the sportsman in international showcases.

If the walls of CAR could speak, we could find great personal stories of overcoming, sandwiched in pain and desire to continue growing. Silent testimonies of hundreds of players who have suffered in their own flesh the two faces of sport. The good and bad reflected in the pools of Sant Cugat but is a toll that all waterpolo player must pay if you want to reach the top.


Endless training sessions where only through BIWPA  the future professional water polo player can feel everything it takes to be an elite athlete and the goals you should be set to be crowned among the best. In the CAR no free lunch and if you’re there, it’s because you’ve earned, often at the expense of friends, family, school …

But aware of this, in the CAR own the athlete has at its disposal the means to train as water polo player, person and student at a time. Why, one of the great advantages of High Performance Center is able to combine studies and sport therefore within the facilities, athletes can form educationally extracting values involving sports, such as perseverance and sacrifice, applying to study. As summarized Anni Espar in his interview to BIWPA, “the values I learned during that time, have helped me shape me as a person and as a player. Able to combine studies with sport is great but even better when you learn and enjoy it. ” This are the words of a world champion and Olympic silver medalist.


In short, evoke the CAR of Sant Cugat brings to mind that there have been great memories. Some better some worse but certainly was the means necessary if a player wanted to grow up to the top. So from BIWPA, although we believe that families have to make a major economic effort so that their children can attend and participate in BIWPA the methodology applied, the CAR is the inner sanctum of the national water polo and, if future promises this sport can have a chance to go through its facilities, the experience is priceless because we are sure, will be a before and after in the player’s training.

By Xabi Gomez.

You’ve been many years linked to waterpolo, especially in Navarre where you’ve been one of the historical. Larraina player and later of Navarra in Division Honor.What memories do they bring to you?

I do not think it has been one of the historical, yes I think I was a player of Club.The club and a generation of players marked a stage and way forward then had a long journey with Waterpolo Club Navarra. The best memories go back to those years as a player in Larraina which is certainly more entertaining than coaching. That’s when you establish friendships with other teammates.

Later decided to end your career as a player and as a coach started another.Your first stop was with the girls UPNA which reaped good results …

Previously I had collated for several years my work player with the coaching ranks of CD Larraina. We 2010/11 promotion to Division Honor Women after a great season. However the greatest satisfaction comes in seasons 2012/13 and 2013/14 where after a hard working team that exceeded mere sport and we reestablish a solid structure on the CD Larraina. Hopefully this will continue in the time and can not fall back into past mistakes.


A year ago, you threw the adventure and crossed the pond to Peru. How was this possible?

The truth is that previously arose the possibility of training in a neighboring country Peru. Late could not be. That encouraged me to try his luck out and live a different professional and personal experience. The Club Deportivo Campo de Marte had need to hire technical and started contacts. They and the Swimming Federation of Peru made ​​possible my arrival.

What was the before and after the Campus Martius after Iñaki Zabalza stay in Lima? Has grow the number of practitioners?

Upon my arrival I saw overwhelmed by the large number of athletes. They trained together at the same time and try to set different groups depending on the category or level. In addition we consolidate a women’s team that had not existed. The work paid off even in the growing number of water polo, mainly in cities such as Arequipa and Trujillo where before there was barely waterpolo.

André mentioned Avallone, coach SESI of Sao Paolo that Brazilian Federation is betting all human and monetary capital available in order to Rio 2016. How does this affect the other Latin American republics? Are they are noticing an increase in sports bets by public institutions?

If it is true that something has changed and moves about Latin American water polo, at least I lived in Peru and other neighboring countries such as Chile and Bolivia. In Peru there are resources and good sports facilities but you have to direct them to the nursery schools Waterpolo, it takes more children. While not do that nothing will change and once done will be a multi-year process to pick fruit.


I think that just landed from Lima you gone to Barcelona to work on campus BIWPA Christmas … What did you experience?

It was a great experience. Not only have I had the opportunity to work with a nice group of guys but it has allowed me to work on the premises of CAR. Never seen something like that, a treat for any sportsman.

Tell us a bit more about this week in Barcelona.

Two great professionals like Xavi Yuri Colet Balaguer and finished to complete the coaching staff. We worked a double session both gym and pool. To this we add videos, various technical talks, matches against other clubs and live presence of Barceloneta-Sabadell Honor Division. The group was composed of boys from various places: Catalan, canaries, Murcia, Portuguese, Americans etc. They fit perfectly from day one and work with them was easy.

What are your plans now back to Pamplona?

In principle, and I think in the end. First I must settle for I took almost a year away from home. I would like to remain connected to waterpolo so anyone who needs my help will have it.


After these days in the CAR, not only Iñaki experience has been positive, but participants also enjoyed the Water Polo Clinic. We leave you with some opinions:

“This Clinic, has personally given me in many aspects besides water polo. I have generated good friends and those friendships have helped me to learn a bit more than this world of Water polo. I was delighted, see you at Easter! ” Fernando, Canarias.

“The Water Polo Clinic seemed to be a unique experience not only to train in one of the best high performance centers, but by the great coaches who have had daily and peers who have lived with me during these days. I have found that in just 10 days you can learn many things and so I thank you for BIWPA. ” Fran, Murcia.

“This week at the Clinic of BIWPA in the CAR has been a very good and fruitful experience for me. I learned a lot and grown both my experience as my knowledge of water polo. I advise all fans of the sport experience! The CAR offers the best conditions for high performance sport worldwide, not just technical improvements and learn, but feel at home! Parents try BIWPA for the future of your children, you will not be sorry! ” Filipe, Portugal.

By Emma Briones

Manel Estiarte (Manresa, 1961) has been fourteen years without jumping into the pool. However, the admiration for his older brother has made him spend more than 30 years in the water. During those years he became one of the best water polo players in the world, participating in six Olympics games and taking gold in Atlanta ’96.

They’ve told me, but I do not remember, that I used to cry a lot in the water, I did not like it. And, truth be told, I hate water, even scares me.

And you ended up in the pool
I was little and my mother, for convenience, as my older siblings were swimmers, signed me at the CN Manresa to learn to swim.

So what led you to play water polo?
It was the love for my brother Albert, I wanted to do what he did. He played water polo, I wanted to water polo. He was playing with the team, I wanted to play with the team … And I played, I played and I got over him, I left him behind [laughs]. I think my brother loves water polo more than me, but I did water polo for him.

But you started as a swimmer.
I was champion of Spain in 200 and 400 styles. I was a swimmer, I trained swimming, I went to the swimming championships. On Friday afternoon, if we had trained well during the week, the coach would let us play with the ball.

When you changed swimming for water polo?
There was a winter that was really the key, I qualified for the only international competition, the Eight Nations. It was a dream to go with the swimming national team. While I was heating, pum! I hit and broke my hand. I cried a lot, I could not go to any competition for a month. And with spring came Pepe Brascó, who was very clever and took me to the absolute team.

And you were only 15 years old…
I was a little 15 year old, who suddenly was playing with the absolute, in Jönköping European Championships (1977). There was criticism, because I was very young, and there were far more good players than me, but Brascó gambled and I will always be grateful.

When I returned from there, I decided to change swimming for water polo. I was aware that I had a talent for water polo, Brascó offered me candy, and I fell for it.

It was an experience.
Suddenly, I had the opportunity to leave Manresa and look what is in the world, to get caught and be taken to the European Championships. Reach out and see De Magistris, that young people today do not know him, but I used to read about him, and there he was, with other amazing water polo players. I was a kid, and I could play for the first time WATERP OLO. For me it was my “BIWPA“.

Would you have liked to have BIWPA then?
I wish I had, but it didn’t exist. However, that competition and BIWPA are the same: it’s water polo, is passion, emotion, touch …

You’ve had a spectacular career, what is your favourite moment?
Four years after losing in Barcelona ’92, and again we are the same one in Atlanta, and the ending whistle. At that time our feelings were like a kick to the heart, the game was over and we hugged each other.


The Olympic Gold.
It has not a different value, the Olympic medal is the same then than now, but the friendship between us, the desire for revenge after the damage we had in Barcelona ’92. 25 years of selection, 30 years of water polo and a life in the water. But if I have to pick a moment, is that one.

You’ve been a few years away from water polo …
I felt very strongly that I wanted to stop in Atlanta, at 36, and those four years later, served as if they were 20, they sucked every little I had left. My mother told me I would miss it, but I knew I wouldn’t miss anything. I’ve never swum after that, I’ve been 14 years without jumping into the pool.

Because it’s over. That was wonderful, my life, but water polo was part of my life, and it was spectacular in every way. Surely I could have done more, but I would have done it unmotivated, for sure. Occasionally I come to a game and in two minutes I can say what works and what does not, who is good and who is not. Water polo it’s inside me.


How do you see today’s water polo from outside?
Those who love water polo clearly will always love water polo, but it is clear that our eyes now let us see that this is water polo. The water polo I had seen in black and white, in the 40s, 50s, 60s, looks more like today’s water polo, and I think that there’s something that does not fit.

Should we make changes, as claimed by FINA?
There was a time in which they should have done, between 2002-2004, there was a water polo trend, and it was changing, I do not know if better or worse, but it was changing. Clearly, if now I see in the Olympic finals Yugoslavia, Spain, Hungary, Italy … I’ll love it, because we see talent, effort, power, emotion … But if I look at everything else, there is something that does not fit, the current water polo doesn’t make you smile. I am convinced that if 50 children to go see water polo for the first time, 46 will not be hooked.

Something is wrong.
In all sports, if you give the ball to the kids, they’ll want to score, because there is still no tactics, no defense. In water polo same. You leave the kids in a pool with a ball, and go straight to the goal. This is the basis of sports. If you take a kid to a water polo match, he’ll say “Why don’t they shoot dad?” And how will you explain them? “No, son, is that if you shoot, there is a statistical chance that …” And it’s always no, don’t shoot now.

In waterpolo you have to wait.
The percentage in water polo it’s an 80% of I get there and wait. That means losing something of sports’ nature. I love it, I loveit dearly, but there is something of the water polo essence that is beyond me, that does not fit. Water polo is a sport that we’re educating wrong.

The first week of the Water Polo Easter Camp 2014 was a great success. We are delighted with our young water polo players, which have shown a lot of motivation and interest and their improvement has been steady all week.

To them has been an experience, not only because they have made great friends, but also because they were able to share values ​​such as teamwork and generosity, and they have shown great enthusiasm and passion for water polo. Thanks to the strong connection between coaches and players, the Easter Camp participants have not only experienced high performance water polo, but have also learned to develop their skills and abilities.

What impressed them most has been the visits of great athletes like Anni Espar, Felipe Perrone and Anna Copado, and the lecture “How to stay motivated all year” by the coach Xesco Espar, one of the distinguishing features of our campus. In addition, the experience of training in the CAR of Sant Cugat has left its mark among our water polo players, not only they were impressed by the facilities, but also because they have been able to experience the lifestyle of elite athletes and they were able to share with them breakfast, lunch and dinner. What an experience!

To finish the campus, yesterday  we were able to enjoy a very special tour. We went to see the match between Spain and Canada and then we walked through Montjuic, getting to know some of the facilities where the Barcelona 92 Olympics took place. In the evening we all shared together (parents , participants and coaches)  a farewell dinner, which was very emotional, full of gifts and surprises for our water polo players.

We are very pleased with the success of this first edition, mainly because our water polo players have had a great time while improving their athletic performance. Tomorrow comes the second group, and we hope you enjoy as much as the athletes who’ve been with us this week.

We hope to see you again in the summer!

Anni Espar Llaquet (Barcelona , January 8, 1993 ) is one of the most valuable players in water polo’s world water; for that reason she was chosen as the best European player of 2012 by the LEN.

She started to play, when she was very young, at CE Mediterrani.  Then she combined swimming and water polo training, because Mediterrani makes children play both sports, until the kids grow up and choose one of them.

At that time, Anni also played basketball at school so she was playing three sports at once. But at 14 years she was in turning point:  she was offered the chance to train in the  Sant Cugat’s CAR  with a grant from the FC de Natació, so definitively she choose water polo as her sport.

In season 2009/2010 signed for the  CN Sabadell team, with sham she won all major titles : several Queen’s cups, 3  Spanish and a European Super Cup. An enviable list of triumphs which proves the high level of  this young water polo player .

Currently and since 2010, the Catalan plays with the Spanish international selection. At this category, Anni was proclaimed world champion at the 2013 Barcelona World Championships, and she also have been silver medallist in the 2012 Olympic Games, where her involvement was decisive to achieve so successful medal.

With the Spanish U-20 team, Anni won the gold medal at the 2011 Junior World Championships , and she also won the silver in 2013 , which was a new sample of  this talented athlete.

In the 2012/13 seasons, she won a scholarship to study at the University of Southern California in the U.S., where she joined the USC Trojans water polo team, which has been proclaimed as the NCAA’s champion team in 2013.


Anni Espar, Silver medal in London 2012

Anni Espar’s successful athletic career, along with her human qualities, makes this player an exceptional ambassador for the BIWPA’s Easter Camp, the water polo campus which will be held during the Easter holidays in the CAR . Nobody like her to explain, convey and support the essential role that these type of initiatives,  such as the Easter Camp’s program or the  CAR, play on many of the best water polo players’ careers .

Anni told us: ” One of the best times of my life was certainly my unforgettable stay in Sant Cugat’s CAR. It was a unique experience and highly recommended. The environment around you is nice, both the treatment of coaches, teachers, like other colleagues or athletes. The values ​​I learned during that time have helped me to grow as a better player and person. The possibility to combine studies with sport is great, but it’s even better when you learn from it and enjoy it.

I want to thank BIWPA for this great initiative, which will not only promote our sport, but also to provide an opportunity for many people to live this good experience, that I’ve lived. ”

Anni Espar

Anni, Gold medal in BCN 2013

Definitely, at BIWPA’s we are all proud and honored to have the support of one of the greatest water polo players, not only in Spain also in the world. Thanks Anni, we cannot imagine a better ambassador for our Easter Camp than you.

There isn’t an exact formula to achieve athletic success. However, many of the great water polo champions share a common denominator: the High Performance Centre of Sant Cugat (Centro de Alto Rendimiento de Sant Cugat, CAR).

The CAR was established in 1987, shortly before of the arrival of the Olympics in Barcelona, in the year 92. ¿And which is CAR’s goal? To be a specialized training center for Spanish athletes who play Sports -considered- minority.

With this leitmotif, and 25 years later, the CAR has become a benchmark as high performance centre internationally. More specifically it has been, and it is currently, essential to promote water sports, especially synchronized swimming and water polo.

Much of the CAR Sant Cugat’s prestige comes from its modern and customized training methodologies. It also has the most advanced facilities and a 360º staff for the athletes. All the staff members work with a single goal: enhancing the natural talent of each player to achieve the excellence, and simultaneously, to optimize his contribution to the team which he or she belongs.

For this reason, the CAR has recently opened a new module which include, among other facilities, 3 pools that cover all the needs for a High Performance training. This pools also incorporate the latest audiovisual and sound technology systems (also underwater systems), to analyze the specific technical and tactical training aspects of each player.

Now BIWPA (Barcelona International Water Polo Academy) gives you the opportunity to live the experience of training in the same resort where Anni Espar or Felipe Perrone has trained.


Anni Espar

Biwpa hosts the first Easter Camp designed by and for water polo players. Easter Camp is a golden opportunity for those who want to enjoy a different vacation during the Easter period, participating in a unique water polo camp, with players from different countries and adding the infinite attractions that just a city as Barcelona can offer.

There are different dates for Easter holidays, depending on the country or the region that you’re from, so BIWPA offers 2 different options:

• April, from the 14th till 20th

• April, from the 21st till 27th

BIWPA uses a cutting-edge training method that improves water polo player skills (individual technique and tactics), and it also includes emotional development and mental strength training.

These methods will be conducted by professionals with proven experience at national and international level; the camp will take place in one of the best European facilities, and our two ambassadors will also visit the Easter Camp, Anni Espar and Felipe Perrone .


Felipe Perrone

Registration is now open and the feedback has been very positive. As soon as preparations for the campus advance, we will tell you everything that happens in this blog, on our Facebook and on Twitter.

Until then, and if you want to know more details, we invite you to take a look at the BIWPA’s web, particularly at Easter Camp program .

This way you will understand that Easter Camp is not another campus over water polo, it’s the opportunity to develop the technical skills of water polo for a week, and in the best environment that you can imagine.

Pep Marí, psicólogo deportivo

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